Spinal cord injuries have been life-changing events of sorts because they tend to paralyze the body partially or completely depending upon the type of injury. Statistics show that every one or two minutes a person suffers from a spinal injury. Now, there is a ray of hope with two research studies in recent times. The two research groups implanted electrical devices in the spinal cord directly thus allowing the paralyzed people to walk again and reverse some effects as well.
Over the past couple of months, researchers have been publishing studies that bring forth the fact around levels to which technology could be used in medicine. In the study, researchers made use of electrical stimulation in order to reverse the effects of spinal cord injuries. While the same is being done for over two decades now, the present study has proved to be kind of a milestone in the area. The researchers used the nerves that were not permanently damaged and activated the nerves with the help of artificial electrical simulation. These nerves are responsible for transmitting information between the brain and the limbs.
The researchers named Kendal Lee and Kristin Zhao conducted the study on a patient that was suffering from complete paralysis in the lower body at the Mayo Clinic in the USA. They planted a device called the Epidural electrical simulator (EES) in the lower part of the body where there are healthy nerves. It works in real-time and with accurate simulation to the desired part of the spinal cord on time. The device is implanted under the skin and makes use of a pulse generator in order to send appropriate signals to the protective layer of the nerves viz. dura attached electrodes. Living with the implanted simulator is not really much different from that living with a pacemaker. Off-course, it is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require a hospital stay. The patient on whom the study was done managed to walk around 100 meters with the help of a walking frame due to the spinal implant. EES has been used and tested on patients having paralysis before as well, but the results it has delivered this time are truly phenomenal. But, the catch is that this kind of implant is only possible if some of the nerves in the lower part of the spine are healthy and intact.
The study only proves the level of breakthroughs advancement of technology can bring about as well as how our knowledge on – how our brain communicates with our body is heading northwards. Now, that there already is proof of it, there is a need of taking the process to the next level viz. carry out larger clinical studies in order to measure the optimum benefits of the treatment and create benchmarks around the same for doctors to follow.